Weird starting issue


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Mh434
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Weird starting issue

Post by Mh434 »



I never have "normal" issues LOL - it's always something strange or almost impossible. "Murphy is my co-pilot"

1997 GL1500SE, with about 70K miles.

From time to time I have a weird starting issue, and always after riding for awhile, shutting it off for a bit, then trying to restart. It acts as though the battery is down to 10V or less - barely cranks at all, maybe a single revolution or only part of one. Try again, and again, 10-15 times, with the cranking getting even less each time. Suddenly, inexplicably, it will start cranking normally & fire right up. Once it's going, it's absolutely normal, with great power etc. and zero electrical issues detectable.

Continue to ride for a few minutes, shut it off, and the cycle begins again. Then, it may start normally for weeks -or months-, then it will suddenly start happening again.

Vital statistics - 2-year old AGM battery, reads as 12.6V-12.7V after a week or more, parked, no charger etc. During "normal" starts (like just now), it spins the engine over fast & easy, and starting usually occurs in less than a second. All battery & main fuse connections are bright, clean, and tight.

Alternator is an aftermarket 95-amp one. Voltage supplied to the battery is a constant, reliable 14.2V, from idle to max RPM's, dipping to 14.1V when the all the brake lights are on.

Starter button always engages, even when this "weird" behavior occurs....but it's like the battery is almost dead. For a while.

Normal dash lights all work (including neutral and sidestand lights), even when the weird behavior occurs.

I haven't used the reverse (or even touched the lever) in over a year.

Anyone have any idea where to start on this?


FM-USA
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by FM-USA »

2 posts on other websites, #3 is mine.
1.) Bad ground wire(s). Some test using jumper cable from battery neg to starter frame NOT its bolts.
2.) Poor starter ground. Bolts on starter housing is the ground, clean surfaces.
3.) Battery level looked good but at the lower line. Added dehumidifier water and now VEROOOOM!

My 1991 Wing the positive battery post & main fuse wires looked pristine but had fading lights issue. Unbolted main fuse wires and seen hidden corrosion. Same for battery posts, had powdery hidden residue. Starts like a new bike!

Your symptom sounds like heat expansion loss of contact. I'd check starter ground first.

.

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Mh434
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Mh434 »

I HATE intermittent problems!! Bike's been starting perfectly today, even after a 1/2 hour running time (just like when it acted up last week). I've cleaned all the cable connections again, tightened everything down, and there's zero resistance among the cables and connections.

It's not possible to top up the battery, as it's a sealed AGM unit.

Arrrggghhh!!! :roll:
FM-USA
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by FM-USA »

See if there's a OHM fluctuation from the starter housing and the motor. It's best to use alligator clips for non-movable connections otherwise you'll get a false reading.
Once the wires are connected, manually push & pull the starter. ANY fluxuation, that should be the culprit.
I've read some will run a ground wire from the back of the starter small long screw to engine ground, but that's a temporary fix.

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Rambozo
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Rambozo »

You might want to check voltage drop under the load of the starter. That will sometimes give you a clue to an intermittent connection problem, even when it's working ok. Because of course as soon as you pull out your meter the fault will be scared away. ;)
I would check drop across the solenoids, and power and ground points. If everything checks good, or you get lucky and you can test when it's acting up, it might be time to look at the starter brushes.
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Mh434
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Mh434 »

Hmmm - interesting idea on running a ground to the starter housing. I know of several who have done that on truck starters that were reluctant to ground and with a good enough cable, it became a permanent fix. Of course, in those cases, the problem wasn't intermittent, and there was a LOT of heat in the factory starting cables (glowing at the connectors while cranking) before the extra ground was added. Going to have to ponder that.

As for load drop, when it's starting normally (like it is now), it starts too quick to measure the voltage drop. I see a change from 12.7V to about 12.6V while cranking but before my digital VOM can settle, it's already running, in less than a second, cold or hot.

Of course, I got busy with the contact cleaner spray to free up the cruise control switches, as well as the start switch, so it's possible I may have corrected the starting problem at the same time. That's one of the problems with fixing intermittent issues - if it's working after doing a bunch of things to it, you have no idea if you've fixed it and, if so, which repair actually fixed it. Frustrating! It's sure starting nicely at the moment.

I guess I do need to get at the starter, but that looks to be an ugly job. I've watched a couple of videos. Not a fun thing to do. I guess there ain't no easy fixes...
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Rambozo »

Yeah just touching things can make an intermittent hide for a while. But they can come back to strand you later. Why I prefer to test as much as possible before doing anything so you find the real problem. What I mean by measuring voltage drop, is to measure between two points while under load, like from the battery post to the terminal wire, then from one end of the wire to the other end. You just work your way down the line. It helps to have a DMM that has a min max function to lock in the highest reading, and not use autoraging. You will be measuring in mV and lower is better. You can flip the kill switch to crank the starter without starting on some years, otherwise you can pull the plug wires to do the same.
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Mh434
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Mh434 »

So, after tinkering with it for a while (cleaning contacts, tightening cable connections, using contact cleaner in the right side handlebar switches, etc.) I haven't been able to get the starting problem to happen again. It did it in the past, too, then went away for over a year.

BTW - I had a relay issue a couple of years ago (I think it was the infamous relay #3?), bought replacements (3 of them, from WingAdmin, just to be safe), but never got around to installing it as I frightened it into working again & the problems it caused haven't come back (the spares are onboard for when I need 'em).

Is there any chance that relay (which is known to cause all kinds of weird, seemingly unrelated issues) could be the culprit?
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by WingAdmin »

A worn relay (relay with worn contacts) can definitely cause this.

Another possible cause not mentioned: worn brushes in the starter.

If you can manage to measure the battery voltage when the problem occurs, that will tell you a lot about where to look. If the voltage DOES drop a volt or three and it's barely cranking, indicating that it's drawing a lot of current (but not doing much with that current except turning it into heat) then you need to be looking closely at the starter motor itself.

If the voltage doesn't drop much (i.e. much less than normal when you start it) then you've likely got a connection issue somewhere between the battery and the starter, introducing resistance. Bad relay contacts, bad battery terminal connector or cable, that sort of thing.
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Crusty1 »

Something to check, if a float is sticking It could be draining into a cylinder while parked. When you try to start it it will turn about a revolution and stop as the liquid is non compressible (hydraulic locked). Waiting a while might slowly allow the liquid past the rings an it might turn over. If this is the case and continues it could cause a blown head gasket, piston damage or broken starter gear. Does it only run on 5 cylinders when it starts? The flooding might show up by removing an comparing spark plugs when it doesn’t start. If it’s hydraulic locked it should spin freely with the plugs out and this will clear the cylinder of the excess liquid.
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Crusty1 »

Any updates on the intermittent starter issue?
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Mh434
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Mh434 »

Sorry, I know it's been quite a while! Work issues, life, etc.....

Ever since I cleaned & tightened the battery cables (right back at the beginning), I haven't been able to recreate the problem. Not even once. Bike cranks & starts, instantly, every time, now. Warm, hot, cold, or in between. I swear, it doesn't even crank one full revolution before it's up and running!

Strangely, this happened to me a couple of years ago, too, then....disappeared for a couple of years, and started perfectly. I did NO work on it, yet the problem vanished. Did I mention that I HATE intermittent electrical problems?!?
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by MikeB »

It sounds as if cleaning and tightening the battery cables was the fix.
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Mh434
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Re: Weird starting issue

Post by Mh434 »

Well, I hope so! It's frustrating, to say the least!


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